Green Revolution: Components, Impact and Way Forward

By Sudheer Kumar K|Updated : January 2nd, 2021

The Green Revolution is important for UPSC IAS Mains GS Paper III (Indian Economy and Agriculture). In this article, you will learn about:

  • What is Green Revolution?
  • What factors were responsible for the adoption of Green Revolution in India? C
  • Components of Green Revolution
  • Effects of Green Revolution and
  • Way Forward

Green Revolution 

What is Green Revolution?

Norman E. Borlaug, a Noble Laureate, and an American agronomist, who led initiatives worldwide that contributed to the extensive increases in agricultural production termed the Green Revolution. He is, thus, called as the Father of Green Revolution.

Green Revolution can be defined as a process of achieving a great increase in the production of food grains with the application of modern methods and techniques. In other words, it means achieving high productivity or multiple folds of food grains per unit of land.

What were the factors responsible for the adoption of Green Revolution in India?

Before the green revolution, India had faced a lot of difficulties in food production:

  • Frequent Famines: In 1964–65 and 1965–66, India experienced two severe droughts which led to food shortages.
  • Lack of Institutional Finance: Marginal farmers found it very difficult to get finance and credit at economical rates from the government and banks.
  • Low Productivity: India’s traditional agricultural practices yielded insufficient food production.

M.S. Swaminathan, who is also known as the Father of Green Revolution in India has contributed to the development of high-yielding variety seeds (Wheat and Rice) thereby helping India achieve food security. 

Components of Green Revolution

Green Revolution required timely and adequate supply of various agronomic components or inputs, such as: 

  • High Yielding variety seeds: Agronomists like Norman E. Borlaug developed a dwarf variety of wheat seeds in Mexico that helped farmers in Asia and Latin America and later whole world could produce high yields.
  • Chemical Fertilizers: Green revolution requires essential nutrients for seeds or plants - primarily nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. But these nutrients from traditional composting methods are not sufficient to produce high yields. Hence, Sprinkling /application of chemical fertilizers provides high nutrients to the soil and thereby helps plants produce high yields.
  • Irrigation: Controlled supply of water resources is essential for adequate dilution of chemical fertilizers and controlled growth of crops.
  • Pesticides and Germicides: Since the new seed varieties are non-acclimatised to local pests and germs, application of pesticides and germicides to kill them is essential for secured harvest.
  • Herbicides and Weedicides: While sowing HYV seeds, application of herbicides and weedicides is required to prevent the chemical fertilisers from not being consumed by herbs and weeds in the farmlands.
  • Farm mechanisation: Farm mechanisation makes farm work easier and faster. As the green revolution supports mono-cropping over large tracts, mechanisation is essential.
  • Credit, Storage and Marketing: 
    • Credit: Buying all the above-mentioned inputs – farm machinery, HYV seeds, chemical fertilisers, irrigation (pump sets, borewells), pesticides & germicides and herbicides & weedicides -are costlier. Hence farmers require the availability of affordable credit.
    • Storage: As green revolution is region specific-ex: a region with reliable irrigation facilities- Bhakra-Nangal multi-purpose dam provides irrigation to 135 Lakh acres in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan- gives bumper cropping, storage facilities in the local regions is essential to distribute to various markets.
    • Marketing & Distribution: A proper chain of marketing, distribution and transport connectivity is essential to distribute the food, to deficient areas and different markets. For building logistics, many countries including India opted for concessional funding or cheaper loans from multilateral agencies like World Bank.

Impact of Green Revolution

Green Revolution has both positive and negative impact on the Indian economy in general and agriculture and the environment in particular.

Positive Impact

  • Ensure food security: India could achieve self-sufficiency in food production and also emerge as a food surplus country (exporter).
  • Food Distribution: Areas with deficient food could get food with the development of storage and marketing facilities. PDS system alleviated hunger among poor vulnerable sections.
  • Improved Farm Incomes: Green revolution has raised a farmer’s income with bumper crop production.
  • Development of Agro-based Industries: Green Revolution led to the growth of agro-based industries like Seed companies, fertilizer industries, Pesticides Industries, Auto and Tractor industries etc.

Negative impact

  • Inter-personal disparities: Since green revolution favoured individual farmers with huge tracts of land got benefited, while the poor farmer was deprived of the same.
  • Regional Disparities: Since green revolution requires a consistent supply of irrigation facilities, regions with good irrigation facilities (Punjab, Haryana etc.) got benefitted, whereas north-east India and some parts of central India could not.
  • Skewed cropping pattern: Choice of crops have been in favour of wheat and rice impacted the crops like pulses, oilseeds, maize, barley etc. negatively.
  • Decrease in Soil fertility: Monocropping or growing a single crop year after year on the same land, in the absence of rotation through other crops or growing multiple crops on the same land (polyculture) lead to degradation of soil.
  • Irrigation:
    • Waterlogging: Rice cultivation requires huge quantities of water, which leads to waterlogging. Waterlogging impairs root growth as roots cannot get oxygen. Water-logging has also led to the incidence of malaria.
    • Salinity of soil: Salinization of soil occurs when the small amounts of salts in irrigation water become highly concentrated on the soil surface through evaporation.
    • Reduced water table: Excess drawing of water for irrigation of crops from bore wells and aquifers lead to the reduced water table.
  • Fertilizers, Pesticides and Herbicides:
    • Excess application of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides has led to environmental degradation by polluting water, land and air.
    • Algal blooms: Synthetic or organic fertilizers run-off into adjacent water bodies causing algal blooms and eventually death of marine species.
    • Bioaccumulation: An increased concentration of chemicals (fertilizers and pesticides) within the fatty tissues of an organism over time. Toxic level in the food chain of India has increased so much that nothing produced in India is fit for human consumption.

Way Forward

  • To overcome the above negative impact, Swaminathan advocated “evergreen revolution”- using environmentally sustainable agriculture, sustainable food security and the preservation of 
  • To reverse imbalanced cropping pattern, Indian Government has envisioned for Rainbow Revolution- promoting integrated farming etc.


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